The way of the miracle-worker is to see all human behavior as one two things: either love, or a call for love.
A Course in Miracles has been hanging around my library shelf for decades. But as long as I have been dancing around ACIM, I have yet to do any serious study with a guide or teacher. I signed up for one of Tama Kieves' ACIM virtual courses, but the sessions were recorded raw and live and the gale-force bursts of laughter are ear-piercingly loud compared to her voice. Thank God that Marianne Williamson did such a brilliant job of translating its core teachings into a riveting and very personal narrative in A Return to Love.
I knew nothing of racism growing up in my small white town, with the possible exception of the attitude toward Hispanics—who seemed more invisible than heckled. By the time I reached young adulthood I was wearing peace symbol earrings, chanting Love Not War! and adopting Todd Rundgren's Love is the Answeras my theme song. But even then, everyone around me was shouting the same protests and the enemies were power-hungry, cruel, greedy, psychopathic monsters like corporate giants or Pol Pot or the US government.
Fast-forward to the small world my kids grew up in, starting out in an even smaller, whiter Midwestern town and graduating from high school in Disneyland, Arizona—aka Fountain Hills. You know it's a cloistered Biff & Wendy Yuppie Conservation Area when you're the only divorced mom in a 15-mile radius. My youngest had her eyes opened at a national Youth Town Council gathering in Atlanta where she had a chance to compare notes with her peers and realize how white-washed and protected her upbringing had been. The closest we came to a multicultural experiences were apartment neighbors along the way: An Asian family whose wok constantly set off the smoke alarm and an Indian couple whose cuisine seeped through the wall and spice-bombed our place with pungent, lingering odors.
Given that I've had the privilege of wearing heart-shaped, rose-colored glasses for so long, today's blatant hate attacks and barrage of hate language have shaken my very roots. God knows it's easy to join hands around the fireplace and sway in rhythm and sing a few of Kumbaya verses when everyone shares a similar perception. But this world, the closeness of this fiery domestic and global ball of fear and hatred, has me feeling like I'm waking up every morning behind enemy lines. A few months ago I was meandering through the Alberta District of Portland with my daughter Lizzy, the same town now reeling from a brutal stabbing attack of two men standing up to defend Muslim women. Last January here in Phoenix, the planners of the Women's March kept the parade route top secret until the last minute as a precaution against bombs being planted along the way.
Having a nature that's way more Chicken Little than Joan of Arc, these are bitter pills for me to swallow on a daily basis. Uncertainty and Unprecedented Craziness seem to be the new norm, but I know a few things for sure. ACIM is right, all human behavior is either love or a cry for love. None of the horror splashed across our headlines is new. It's just been compressed in the collective underbelly, slowly leaking poisonous gas.
We may be seeing breakdowns we've never witnessed before but we are also seeing miraculous breakthroughs—renewed commitments, fresh alliances, grassroots movements—a growing recognition that we're all in this together, we are all connected, we are a human family. Me versus You is melting into Us.
Arizona now has a brave white Muslim woman, attorney and community activist named Deedra Abboud who just announced her bid for the US Senate. Standing up to hatred has been a way of life for her, she's fearless and up to the challenge. On a personal level her mantra is, "Take me as I am or watch me as I go." Her campaign slogan is United, We Rise. Last month she held a Meet and Greet at a tiny local vegan restaurant, an event that attracted vicious social media attacks but also on-site, poster-waving, bull-horn protests from the Fraternal Order of Alt-Kings of Phoenix.
An entire Facebook page sprang up after the event in support of Deedra and the small cafe that refused to back down and pack it in: "Deedra Hill Abboud met with her supports as if there was a choir outside singing her praise instead of what we saw: a vulgar and angry gang of white nationalists." But it was Deedra's comment later that blew my ever-lovin' mind. She said it dawned on her that these men believe in the rightness of their beliefs as deeply as she believes in hers—and that realization gave her tingles.
It gave her tingles? It gave her tingles. Okay, I have a very long way to go on this whole "see everything as love" journey. I need a much larger pair of clear-lens, unbreakable, titanium-framed Love Glasses.
Life’s experiences, regardless of how they show up, are the means through which we get to love one another.